Barb Szyszkiewicz checks out a stack of books for Lenten reading and prayer.
Lent begins on February 17 this year: it's time to purchase your Lenten spiritual reads so you'll be off to a good start on Ash Wednesday. I have an enormous pile of spiritual books on my desk that are either specific to Lent or suitable for Lent. You're sure to find something for yourself or your family.
While we're not all able to gather in churches as usual for Mass, Stations of the Cross, and other devotions, we can feed our souls through spiritual reading and pray the Stations of the Cross at home or in outdoor meditation areas. This Lent, we may need to be creative in finding ways to deepen our faith.
While we offer Amazon links for the convenience of our readers, we encourage you to patronize your local Catholic store if you have one available.
Lenten Prayer Journal
Surrender All: An Illuminated Journal Retreat through the Stations of the Cross by Jen Norton (Ave Maria Press). Don't be afraid to write in this beautiful journal. Jen Norton provides the art, which includes some lettered Scripture verses as well as paintings of each of the Stations of the Cross. For each station, there is a Scripture reading, a two-page reflection, and a "creative illuminations" section where you're invited to express your thoughts either through visual art or by writing in the spaces provided.
CatholicMom will feature selections from this journal every Sunday during Lent, and Ave Maria Press is offering a special price on Surrender All: click the button below to learn more.
Praying with Jesus and Faustina during Lent and in Times of Suffering by Susan Tassone (Sophia Institute Press). This prayer book is comprised of several sections:
- Daily devotions beginning on Shrove Tuesday and ending on Divine Mercy Sunday (including readings from St. Faustina's Diary and a prayer)
- Meditations on the Passion and the Way of the Cross
- Taking Refuge in the Wounds of Jesus
- Uniting our Sufferings with Our Lady's
- Litanies for Lent and in Times of Suffering
- Jesus and St. Faustina on Making a Good Confession
Susan Tassone's thorough knowledge of St. Faustina Kowalska's Diary and her devotion to prayer for the suffering souls in Purgatory enrich her writing. Each day's readings are approximately one page in length; you'll also find directions for praying the Divine Mercy Novena and other devotions.
The Living Gospel: Daily Devotions for Lent 2021 by Theresa Rickard, O.P. (Ave Maria Press). This pocket-size, two-page-per-day devotional is an excellent day starter or lunchtime read. Each day's selection includes a reference to the daily Mass readings - so keep your Bible handy while you read. Following the Scripture reading, a short reflection connecting the reading to our everyday lives follows, along with a suggested action and closing prayer.
For the Kids
Living Faith Kids: What We Do in Lent by Connie Clark (Creative Communications for the Parish). Help your early readers (ages 5 and up) understand what Lent is all about with this sticker booklet that explains Ash Wednesday, the Lenten calendar, ways to pray during Lent (and anytime), fasting and abstaining from meat, almsgiving, and more Lenten practices. The booklet includes many activities families can do at home to enrich their faith together.
The Stations of the Cross
Contemplating the Way of the Cross: A Personal Encounter with Our Crucified Lord by Mary Leonora Wilson, FSP (Pauline Books & Media). Place yourself in the scene of each station, pondering what it was like for Jesus and those with him, then read the meditation and short prayer. A verse of the Stabat Mater closes each of the stations.
Stations of the Cross for Kids by Regina Doman; illustrated by Chris Lewis (TAN Books). A bit of behind-the-scenes information about each station, holy relics, and historical events related to some of the places mentioned in the Stations of the Cross will fascinate curious young readers (and their parents!). This retelling of the Stations of the Cross is ideal for readers in fourth grade through middle school and includes Scripture verses, lyrics to the Stabat Mater, and a short meditation on each station along with prompts to pray an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be. The detailed illustrations provide context.
Living Faith Kids: Praying the Stations of the Cross by Mark Nielsen (Creative Communications for the Parish). Younger readers (ages 5 through 10) will appreciate this short journey through the Stations of the Cross, which includes the traditional opening prayer for each station, an age-appropriate description of what was happening at each station, a short meditation, and a closing prayer. This booklet includes stickers to be placed beside the prayer for each station.
Saint Stories for the Family
A Storybook of Saints by Elizabeth Hanna Pham (Sophia Institute Press). While this book is designed to be read on the feast days of the saints included in it, there's no reason children ages 7 and up can't enjoy this book during Lent. Short biographies of 50 saints are complemented by simple line drawings designed to resemble holy cards. Enjoy this book as a family by reading about a saint each day, perhaps after school or after dinner.
I'm a Saint in the Making by Lisa M. Hendey (Paraclete Press). Lent is the perfect time to underscore the message in this book for grownups as well as kids: saints are superheroes, and we are called by God to be heroes too. Every saint is both a role model and a prayer champion, Lisa maintains, and in language simple enough for kids (without ever talking down to them) she demonstrates how they can strive for both those goals in their everyday lives. A wonderful variety of saints, from the days of the early Church through modern times, is represented. Illustrations are fun, inclusive, and engaging, and include many wonderful details about the saints discussed in the book.
For Teens and Young Adults
Hope. Always. Our Anchor in Life's Storms by Kris Frank (Pauline Books & Media). Catholic youth minister Kris Frank offers reflections on finding hope in difficult times in this honest, relatable book that doesn't insult the intelligence of teens and college students. Discussion questions at the end of each chapter can be used by youth groups, small faith-sharing groups, or as journal prompts for individual readers.
Victory! Poems by Jake Frost. CatholicMom contributor Jake Frost ponders Palm Sunday and the Garden of Gethsemane in two poems in this volume of short verse. Historical notes provide context for some of the poems included.
Ex Libris: G.K. Chesterton by Dale Ahlquist (Pauline Books & Media). This introduction to the nonfiction work of G.K. Chesterton is organized by topic and features selections on wonder; innocence; goodness; purity; faith, hope, and charity; the Christian ideal; everyday holiness; and joy. Each brief excerpt includes the name of the book or essay where it originated, so you can look into reading more by this beloved 20th-century writer. Lent is an excellent time to dig into the writing of a new-to-you spiritual thinker.
Copyright 2021 Barb Szyszkiewicz
Image: Canva Pro
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About the Author
Barb Szyszkiewicz is a wife, mom of 3 young adults, and a Secular Franciscan. She is editor at CatholicMom.com. Barb enjoys writing, cooking, and reading, and is a music minister at her parish and an avid Notre Dame football and basketball fan. Find her blog at FranciscanMom and her family’s favorite recipes with nutrition information for diabetics at Cook and Count. Her booklet, The Handy Little Guide to Prayer, is coming in May 2021 from Our Sunday Visitor.